Under Illinois law, an injured party can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the party who caused the accident or incident that resulted in those injuries. Financial compensation can include economic damages, such as medical expenses and loss of income, and noneconomic damages, including pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and permanent disability. These two types of damages are sometimes referred to as compensatory damages. In some cases, the injured party may also be awarded punitive damages.
Punitive damages are awarded when the jury or judge believes that the at-fault party’s conduct was particularly egregious, reckless, or intentional. Unlike compensatory damages, intended to compensate the plaintiff for their actual losses, punitive damages serve a different purpose: to punish the at-fault party and deter similar conduct in the future. An Illinois personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case to determine if punitive damages may be a factor.
The following are some circumstances under which punitive damages may be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit.
Punitive damages can be relevant if the at-fault party’s actions or omissions are grossly negligent. Gross negligence goes beyond ordinary negligence and involves a reckless disregard for the safety and well-being of others. For example, punitive damages may be considered if a driver is intoxicated and causes a severe accident.
When the at-fault party’s actions are intentional and malicious, punitive damages are more likely to be awarded. For instance, if someone assaults another person, causing serious injuries, a court may order punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer.
Fraud and Deceit
Cases involving fraud, deceit, or intentional misrepresentation may warrant punitive damages. If a company knowingly sells a defective product and conceals the defects, resulting in harm to consumers, punitive damages could be awarded to discourage such unethical behavior.
Wanton and Reckless Conduct
Courts may award punitive damages when an at-fault party’s actions demonstrate a conscious disregard for the rights and safety of others. For example, a manufacturer that continues to produce a product it knows is dangerous without making necessary safety improvements might be liable for punitive damages.
Cases where the at-fault party’s actions were driven by ill will or malicious intent are more likely to result in punitive damages. For instance, if an employer intentionally subjects an employee to hazardous working conditions, punitive damages may be awarded to the injured party.
When an at-fault party has a history of similar misconduct or has previously been penalized for similar behavior, it increases the likelihood of punitive damages. Repeated violations of safety regulations or laws can be considered when deciding if the at-fault party is liable for more than compensatory damages.
Contact a DuPage County, IL Personal Injury Lawyer for Legal Assistance
Punitive damages are intended to send a strong message that specific actions are especially egregious and can be a powerful tool to deter future misconduct. However, the injured party must meet a higher burden of proof than just demonstrating the at-fault party’s liability. This is why having a skilled Bloomingdale, IL personal injury attorney advocating for you is important. Call [[title]] at [[phone]] to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation.